It’s official, Salem Baptist Church in Jenkintown now has a new pastor. The Rev. Marshall Paul Hughes Mitchell was installed during a service on Sunday.
The church was filled with members and well-wishers who included visiting clergy and elected officials. Every seat was filled and attendants helped navigate drivers to available parking spaces in the neighborhood.
“Holy, holy, holy” sang the choir during the procession that commenced the service, which was marked by fellowship and laughter as speaker after speaker took the podium to congratulate Marshall and the members of Salem.
“This is your house, this is your servant and this is your city,” said the Rev. Charles Howard, who gave the invocation as he petitioned God to bless the new pastor.
“This is a partnership between a church family that is made in heaven,” said Congressman Chaka Fattah, who praised Marshall for his dedication, commitment and history of service. “He has prepared himself to stand in this pulpit.”
District Attorney Seth Williams kept the audience laughing during his address.
“I am very thankful to be a part of this wonderful service. We know that your father would be very proud,” said Williams, who acknowledged having known Marshall since high school.
“The impact that Reverend Marshall will have, his influence, will reverberate for years to come, and that’s why I’m here.”
Williams said he has gone to places around the world lstudying the best practices for law enforcement as Philadelphia’s district attorney, but that the most important thing he has learned through his travels was contained in the concept of “Ubuntu” which he learned in South Africa.
The word, which Williams says is the equivalent ‘humanity’ in English, is encapsulated in the South African phrase: “I am because you are, and because you are, I am.”
“My friend Marshall understands Ubuntu,” said Williams.
Robert Bogle, CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune, congratulated the new pastor and spoke to the congregation about destiny.
“There are some things that are predictable and some things that are destined. Having Marshall here is not only a blessing, but is destined,” said Bogle. “Many of your tomorrows will be better than your yesterdays only because you have been blessed to share his presence.”
The charge to the church was given by the Rev. W. Wilson Goode, Sr. whose address was marked by moments of humor but nevertheless contained serious instructions to members of Salem’s congregation.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to charge you – about $100 apiece,” said Goode, whose remark was met with uproarious laughter.
Goode went on to remind the members of the church that God has chosen a leader and that the new pastor will require the support and participation of the congregation.
“I charge you, no matter how long you have been here or how much money you give, to remember that it is God’s church, and I charge you to see it that way,” said Goode. “Secondly, I challenge you to let this church be a lighthouse in this community.”
He instructed the congregation to allow the new pastor to do the work of a pastor and avoid attempts to usurp his leadership and guidance.
“If you are not the pastor, do not act like you are.”
This message was reinforced by the Rev. Albert Franklin Campbell, Sr., pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, who titled his message, “A pastor’s job description.”
After the ceremony, the members of the church and visitors enjoyed a time of fellowship when they dined together and had an opportunity to celebrate the occasion.
Marshall, Salem’s 11th pastor, has a long history of educational and corporate achievement. A graduate of Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, philosophy and the classics, he also studied theology at New York’s Union Theological Seminary.
“He deftly melds secular business acumen with spiritual accountability and promise,” read materials distributed by the church.